from Watts, in response to “Now it is clear why people with little training are so easily confused.” justthefacts replies:
I question whether “training” is the best way to learn about Earth’s Climate System. I think it’s better to actively identify the gaps in your knowledge and seek to fill them. With access to much of written human knowledge in a matter of a few keystrokes and some great professors hanging out in places like WUWT, one isn’t reliant upon trainers. Furthermore, a diversity of sources and opinions is advantageous when studying such an uncertain subject. I think it is better to be well researched, well read, well taught and well learned, than it is to be well trained…
At first it sounded ludicrous to me. Obviously this is a person who does not Get It. But there’s something to think about here.
“a diversity of sources and opinions is advantageous when studying such an uncertain subject” is the nut of the question. How do you know that the subject is uncertain? The more diverse your sources the more uncertain you will be, but what does that actually tell you? What you need is to know the diversity of reliable sources, and coming in fresh, you do not know who the reliable sources are.
It seems to me, actually that “training” is not exactly the issue. Many an undergraduate is highly trained in mathematical methods but doesn’t understand research; that is the recruiting ground for skeptics and denialists, and the place where the defense of science has been shockingly weak.
The best way to understand research is to obtain a new fact or two that is more or less recognized as such. Those who haven’t achieved this are at a disadvantage in identifying where to cull the input on a question in which they take an interest. Perhaps there is some way to make the real intellectual hierarchy more apparent.
How the scientific community winnows and sifts ideas and settles on theories, that is, the details of the social mechanism, changes over time and with the technological and social context. It is in some turmoil right now, as is any communication-intensive pursuit.
The recent process has largely been invisible. It is designed to protect the egos of marginal players. This is why peer review tries to be anonymous and private. But there may be more important goals now.
The appearance of suspicious/hostile amateurs at various levels of competence and seriousness changes the balance of power quite a lot. It may be necessary for scientists to drop all the formal circumspection and be as frank (or “arrogant”) in public as they are in private. This is not a time for waffling.
Almost everything is wrong. The superpower of science is the ability to say something is wrong. Jim Bouldin suggests that Wit’s End is wrong about tree mortality. I wondered about that. I smell expertise here and so be it; I don’t choose to argue the point. It’s sort of funny but in a way his response is far more convincing to me than chapter and verse would be. Of course, and this is the point, your mileage may vary.